Deadly "derecho" thunderstorms move east after slamming Midwest

Last Updated Jul 1, 2014 8:15 PM EDT

Parts of the Midwest are cleaning up after a rare and dangerous weather event.

A series of thunderstorms called a "derecho" roared through Michigan, Indiana, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Illinois Monday. At least four deaths have been attributed to the event.

Hundreds of thousands lost power. Chicago's tallest building, Willis Tower, was hit repeatedly by lightning. The National Weather Service says winds reached 100 mph in northern Illinois after strong storms and heavy rains.

More than 3 inches of rain fell over much of eastern Iowa and northern Illinois Monday night and Tuesday morning, and some areas got up to 5 inches of rain, National Weather Service meteorologist Mark Fuchs said, capping a week of downpours in the region.

Six Midwest states - North and South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois and Missouri - were dealing with significant flooding and there were pockets in some other states. By the weekend, the Mississippi River will be at major flood stage along many Iowa, Illinois and Missouri communities, forecasters said. River flooding could close highways, potentially top levees and threaten some homes and businesses.

The Mississippi River rise came suddenly after a spate of thunderstorms in the last month, Fuchs said.

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A bolt of lightning strikes near the top of the Willis Tower in downtown Chicago, Monday, June 30, 2014, as rain and high winds were moving into Illinois from Iowa.
AP Photo/Kiichiro Sato

O'Hare Airport spent much of Tuesday under a flood warning after floodwaters brought traffic nearby to a halt, reports CBS Chicago's Vince Gerasole.

The National Weather Service labeled the derecho "particularly dangerous."

The storms were blamed for two deaths in Indiana, where trees fell on homes early Tuesday, killing 14-year-old Daniel Holbrook in Winona Lake and 64-year-old Larry Davisson at Big Long Lake. In Iowa, a man died when a building collapsed in high winds.

Rescue crews recovered the body Tuesday of a teenager who was swept away in a Cedar Rapids storm drain after heavy rainfall overwhelmed the eastern Iowa city's sewer system.

Logan Blake, 17, was carried away by the fast-moving water in the drain at an elementary school around 7:20 p.m. Monday, said city public safety communications coordinator Greg Buelow.

The storm sewer drains into Cedar Lake, where the body was found.

Also in Cedar Rapids, several workers were hurt trying to roll out the tarp to cover the field at a minor league baseball game.

"What's not destroyed is damaged," tornado victim Arnold Lewis said in Iowa. "I mean, I've got a mess. I've got a real bad mess."

Along the Iowa-Illinois border torrential rains caused dangerous flash flooding, stranding drivers in knee deep water.

At least 90,000 homes were left without power in southeastern Wisconsin, while reports of tornado touchdowns popped up throughout the region.

About 219,000 customers remain without power and a firefighter has been injured across parts of Michigan.

DTE Energy said late Tuesday morning it's restoring power to about 130,000 homes and businesses. Consumers Energy said about 60,000 are without power, down from 70,000 earlier. Indiana Michigan Power had 29,000 Michigan outages.

More than 230,000 outages were reported due to the storm that also spawned heavy rain and caused road flooding.

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Storm clouds form near U.S. Cellular Field forcing the cancellation of a game between the Chicago White Sox and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim on June 30, 2014, in Chicago, Illinois.

Jonathan Daniel/ Getty Images

Crews were working to restore power to thousands of customers left without electricity in southern Wisconsin.

At least 115,000 customers of Milwaukee-based We Energies were without power at the peak of the outage.

We Energies spokesman Rick White says power has been restored to more than 80,000 customers, but about 36,000 customers were still without electricity Tuesday morning.

White says Monday's storm damaged 29 power poles. He calls it the utility's worst outage in a decade.

Across the rest of southern Wisconsin, Madison-based Alliant Energy says about 1,500 customers remained without power early Tuesday, down from a high of 10,000.

Chief meteorologist Craig Setzer of CBS Miami reports the threat of severe weather from the storm system will move slightly southeast, and be a danger from upstate New York through the Ohio valley.

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